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SpaceX successfully launched, hovered, and landed a small steel rocket ship called Starhopper on Thursday.
The vehicle is an early prototype of Starship: a far larger system that's designed to send people to the moon and Mars.
Starhopper lifted off at around 11:45 p.m. ET (10:45 p.m. CT), flew for roughly 20 seconds, and followed a flight plan described by Elon Musk, the founder of SpaceX.
Locals who set up live broadcasts of the launch managed to record Starhopper's flight.
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Locals at the southern tip of Texas took in an otherworldly sight on Thursday night: A giant mirror-polished machine roared to life near a beach, and through a cloud of orange smoke, rose six stories into the sky, hovered, and then gently landed.
Though the launch lasted less than a minute, the late-night spectacle was the first true flight of SpaceX's Starhopper rocket ship. It represents a key step in company founder Elon Musk's quest to send people to the moon and Mars, though Starhopper isn't designed to fly into space. Instead, it's a test bed for technologies that could eventually power a much larger and more powerful launch system known as Starship.
Though it was difficult to see the hop through the smoke, Starhopper appeared to move, and Musk confirmed on Twitter that the flight was "successful." The launch did appear to start a brush fire that was still being contained nearly a half hour after the launch (at the time of writing).
Musk envisions Starship as a nearly 400-foot-tall, fully reusable system that can ferry about 100 people and more than 100 tons of cargo at a time to Mars.
Starhopper flight successful. Water towers *can* fly haha!! — e^